Matthews told reporters on Friday he feels his new contract, worth a total of $53 million, brings a sense of “balance on both sides.”
Balance, as in taking four years of terms rather than the maximum eight — an unusual move for a superstar player of Matthews’ calibre at this point in his career, but a smart one in a changing cap landscape. Balance, as in a cap hit ($13.25 million, accounting for nearly 16 per cent of the club’s cap) that pre-signing speculation suggested could’ve been higher.
The centreman, who still has one season remaining on the five-year pact he signed in 2019, said the resulting pact was something he “felt most comfortable with.”
Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving praised his top forward for his determination to get the deal done prior to training camp, which will allow the focus to be not on negotiations but on the ice.
Treliving pointed to the shifting cap as a large driver in the term, and said of the deal, “I think we found the sweet spot.”
Of course, there will likely still be a focus on contract talks — just not Matthews’. William Nylander is also approaching his contract year and said he’s in no rush to hammer out a new deal.